On Tuesday, the first bitcoin-linked exchange-traded fund will make its official debut.
ProShares’ much-anticipated ETF, which will track the bitcoin futures market, will begin trading on the NYSE on Tuesday under the ticker ‘BITO,’ according to the company.
“We believe a multitude of investors have been eagerly awaiting the launch of a bitcoin-linked ETF after years of efforts to launch one,” ProShares CEO Michael L. Sapir said in a statement Monday. “BITO will open up exposure to bitcoin to a large segment of investors who have a brokerage account and are comfortable buying stocks and ETFs, but do not desire to go through the hassle and learning curve of establishing another account with a cryptocurrency provider… or are concerned that these providers may be unregulated and subject to security risks.”
According to Coin Metrics, the price of bitcoin was around $60,000 Monday morning, after rallying as high as $62,000 over the weekend in anticipation of the ETF.
For the still-developing cryptocurrency industry, bitcoin futures ETFs will also be a significant regulatory achievement. The crypto currency industry as a whole has for long struggled to establish itself in the financial world which is highly regulated.
Four of the crypto currencies are hoping to get started on their own ETFs this month. It’s possible that Invesco’s will arrive as early as this week.
“This will be probably the biggest endorsement from the SEC for crypto,” said Ian Balina, CEO of the data and analytics firm Token Metrics. Balina added that for years, there has been a tussle between regulators and the crypto industry globally and regulators have “impeded the acceptance of crypto” by retail investors. “This will be a floodgate of new capital and new people into the space.”
Applications seeking permission to launch spot bitcoin ETFs have been filed by at least ten asset managers since 2017. ETFs would give investors a platform to buy the bitcoin itself directly instead of purchasing other derivatives that are linked to it.
All the applications were rejected by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which then was led by Jay Clayton, as it argued that none of the asset managers could demonstrate that the market is resistant to market manipulation.
There was flood of bitcoin futures ETF applications since the comment of SEC chair Gary Gensler in August in a speech about him prefering investment vehicles that include futures. Investing in a futures-based ETF isn’t the same as investing in bitcoin directly.
In a futures contract, an investor essentially gets into agreement to buy or sell an asset at a predetermined price at a future date. A futures-based ETF tracks the cash-settled futures contracts rather than the asset’s price itself.
“The all-in cost of a futures-based ETF could be in the 5% to 10% range once you take into account the annualized roll yield,” said Matt Hougan, chief investment officer at Bitwise Asset Management, which has its own application for a bitcoin futures ETF in line at the SEC.
Annualized roll yield is the return a futures investor captures on top of the change in the price of the underlying asset.
“Futures-based ETFs are also more confusing,” Hougan added. “They have challenges like position limit and official dilution, and they can’t get 100% exposure to the futures market.”
In October, the SEC is expected to review four bitcoin futures ETFs which are from ProShares, Valkyrie, Invesco and Van Eck. These ETFs will be allowed to go ahead and get listed 75 days after their paperwork was filed in the eventuality that the SEC does not intervene within that period.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)